Bronzing and Contouring are two makeup terms that are often used interchangeably when they are actually very different. For years I used my bronzer to contour my face, and it wasn’t until makeup school where I learned that I was doing it wrong. Contouring and Bronzing are basically opposites with unique shades and application techniques for each of them.
Your contour shade should be cool toned and completely matte. The goal is not to add color to your face, it’s simply to play around with shapes and add shadows. Use a tapered brush and apply the product anywhere that you’d like to “push back” or “hide”. The most common places are right under the cheekbones to sculpt the face, under the chin for a more defined jaw line, around the hairline to make the forehead appear smaller, and along the sides of the nose to make it appear thinner. The application really depends on your face shape and features. You have to play around with it to figure out what looks best on you because everyone’s face is different. Remember to always blend because the whole point of contouring is that you’re not supposed to tell it’s there.
Your bronzer shade should be warm toned (shimmer is optional). The goal of bronzer is to add warmth to the skin and give you a “post-vacation” glow. Use any fluffy face brush to apply bronzer on the high points of your face, which are the areas of the face that the sun would naturally hit. The most common places are on the tops of the cheekbones, on the temples and center of the forehead, along the bridge of the nose, and the chin. Use a light hand and a brush that won’t deposit too much color. Once again, remember to always blend.
If you don’t want to go out and buy new products for these techniques, you can always look inside one of your favorite nude eye shadow palette for similar shades. As long as you don’t use the sam shade for both, you’ll be good!
My favorite kit for contouring and bronzing is the Smashbox Contour Kit because it has the perfect shades to do both. I also love both the Anastasia Contour Kit and the Kat Von D Shade and Light Palette because there are a few more shades to choose from.